How meditation can help you sleep

Do you struggle with insomnia? Find out how meditation can help you sleep better.

Sleepless nights are a pressing dilemma affecting about half of all adults worldwide. In many circumstances, they are caused by poor sleeping standards or insomnia related to stress. The combined effects of anxiety and tension often contribute to difficulties falling asleep, leading to depression and a number of substantial mental health issues.

Several studies have proven how meditation can alleviate the associated symptoms by allowing the body to remain calm for a proper night’s rest. A study conducted in 2015 by JAMA Internal Medicine took 49 adults who reported issues sleeping, with half utilizing a mindfulness awareness program that taught them meditation techniques, while the other half underwent a sleep education class to improve sleeping habits.

Over the course of six weeks, the results showed that the mindful meditation practiced by the first group yielded less insomnia, fatigue, and depression than was experienced by the second group. The idea of mindful meditation is to gradually signal the relaxation response when it is difficult to sleep. 

Physiological reactions

Aside from reducing stress, meditation has other associated benefits that make it a viable treatment option for those that suffer from lack of sleep. Through meditation techniques, it is possible to increase melatonin levels to assist in sleep.

Meditation triggers an increase in serotonin, which helps regulate mood so that sleep hormones are activated. Meditation also functions by decreasing blood pressure and heart rate so that the body is in a more relaxed state. Once in a meditative state, the part of the brain that controls sleep counteracts stress hormones and the fight or flight mechanism of the brain that deters rest. 

A sense of relaxation

Meditation is instrumental in turning down the noise of the day and letting you mentally release any stressors you may have encountered throughout your waking hours. Those who seek to incorporate meditation into their habits should aim to meditate at least once a day to reap the full benefits.

Awareness of other discomforts

Meditation helps to balance awareness and remove toxic energy and relationships that cause mental and physical discomfort. Enhancing the status of the sleeping environment is one of the best ways to improve the quality through meditation. 

To get a good night’s sleep, you need your physical self to be as comfortable as your mental self. This means ensuring ideal sleeping conditions. Keep the temperature of your sleeping space on the cool side, use hypoallergenic linens, and find a mattress that works for you. You can even find mattress reviews online to work out what model will augment your meditation practice best.

How to meditate

There is more than one approach to meditation, with many offering their own particular set of benefits for healing various health and mental issues. here are some of the most popular types of meditation you can try:

  • Mindfulness meditation involves being more aware of surroundings, including the sights, sounds, and aromas that make up the experience. Through increased awareness, practitioners can track their breathing and manage how it handles tension in the body. 
  • Body scan meditation focuses on the sensations felt in the body and how each body part—from toes through the legs and up the chest to the head—reverberates and reacts to touch. 
  • Mantra meditation uses word or phrase repetition to hone in on better awareness, a process that assists in slowing down mental activity and elevating sleep patterns. 
  • Metta meditation involves extending the attitude of understanding, love and kindness to everyone and everything around you, a process that increases positive emotions and reduces interpersonal conflict.
  • Breath awareness meditation encourages mindful breathing to improve concentration and increase emotional flexibility. The focus of this method is to ignore the various thoughts entering the mind. 
  • Zen meditation is closely tied with Buddhism and involves practitioners breathing mindfully in a comfortable position to assess their inner thoughts better.
  • Transcendental meditation is a spiritual form of practice in which practitioners breathe slowly to rise above a current state of being and reach heightened mindfulness.

Additionally, several apps have been designed with specific meditation methods to cover particular needs and track progress throughout a session. The intent is to use the latest technology to create a comfortable space to practice meditation productively. 

The mindfulness movement

Mindfulness and relaxation are highly regarded in the world of meditation, and they are only one component of a more significant movement. True mindfulness requires being away about what you consume, how you treat life, and the most effective ways to reduce stress, live a healthier life and sleep better. Meditation should be treated as the initial step on the mindfulness journey towards better sleep and overall health. 

The benefits of meditation have been demonstrated in several studies that note how quick and effective the process is after only a few weeks, with many practitioners reporting improvement immediately after a session. The goal is that with patience and enough practice, heightened sensations will function outside of scheduled meditation sessions. 

Photo by JD Mason